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642 THE REAL JAIL PROBLEM
concretely illustrates, from many angles, the modus operandi of
We hope that in the near future we may be able to publish an
extended critical review of Professor Gross' life and work.
Robert H. Gault.
THE REAL JAIL PROBLEM.
Under the auspices of the Juvenile Protective Association of Chi-
cago there has been recently issued a pamphlet under the above title,
the text of which is by Miss Edith Abbott. The real jail problem
is not how a new jail should be built to care best for the more than
8,000 men and boys who in Cook County, 111., are each year locked up
in its steel cages for longer or shorter periods of time, but how many
of the 8,000 could and should be spared the suffering and the humil-
iation of serving a term of imprisonment in the jail.
At present three classes of persons are confined in the Cook Coun-
1. Those who are merely waiting to be tried and who, until
they have been tried and found guilty, are presumed under the
law to be innocent persons. The report of the Chicago Crime
Committee showed that about 90 per cent of all the "prisoners"
sent to the jail during a year are sent there, not under sentence,
but to be held awaiting trial.
2. Those who have been tried and found guilty and sentenced
to a term of imprisonment in the County Jail. The Crime Com-
mittee's report showed that only about five per cent of the "pris-
oners" are persons who have been tried, found guilty and given
a jail sentence.
3 The remaining five per cent of the jail population is a rather
miscellaneous group including persons held after conviction pending
transfer to some other penal institution, those held as witnesses,
or on order of the United States Courts, on writs of ne exeat, etc.
The greater part of the 8,600 persons who were confined in the
Cook County Jail during the last year were there, not because they
were guilty of crime, but because they could not provide bail during
the period the law was taking its course. The jail problem, therefore,
is largely a problem of poverty. There were last year only 219 persons
arrested on the charge of murder. Since the law of Illinois provides
that any person awaiting trial may be released on bail unless he be
charged with capital offense where the proof is evident or presumption
great, it is evident, therefore, that more than 7,000 of those who were
in the jail last year could have been released if they had only been
financially able. What method, therefore, can be devised to meet the
THE REAL JAIL PROBLEM 643
Again, it is assumed that the person who is confined in jail is
suffering deserved punishment. That is not necessarily true. He is
waiting for a trial ; and the report of the Crime Committee in Chicago
last year showed that the great mass of those who are waiting for
trial are not sentenced but discharged. They are either found not
guilty or they are found guilty of an offense that is punishable only
by a small fine. Again, of the 8,600 persons who were sent to jail
last year only 1,100 were found guilty of offenses which were serious
enough to be given any kind of sentence of imprisonment. Of these
1,100, 260 were sent to Joliet Penitentiary, 78 boys were sent to the
State Reformatory at Pontiac, and 764 men or boys were sent to the
House of Correction, the majority of this last group being sent, not
because they deserved punishment, but because they were too poor
to pay the small fines which the court imposed.
Obviously the building of a jail does not go far toward meeting the
real problem. To be sure, a fit jail may reduce the probability of moral
and physical contagion, which too often goes along with the idleness
and congestion of cell life, but the only real substitute for the present
system lies in an extension of the probation system. A probation of-
ficer could be ordered by the judge to make inquiry concerning the
means of men and their habits. Then in nearly all instances Cook
County could trust the alleged offender to appear for trial just as fully
as the rich man who has given a money bond can be trusted to appear
for trial. If necessary, the probation officer could be assigned to keep
in communication with him, and the cost of the probation service
would not be so great as the cost of maintaining the same persons in
jail. The cost of the County Jail in Cook County last year, according
to the Comptroller's report, was $133,285.86. The County appropri-
ated $64,698.40 for the salaries of jail guards, making the total jail
salaries $87,681.37, in contrast to the $9,585 appropriated for the sal-
aries of probation officers.
This is the real jail problem wherever there is a jail. The Chi-
cago Crime Report sets it forth most explicitly for Cook County,
In the present number of this Journal we publish an article by
Prof. J. L. Gillin, of the University of Wisconsin, in which it is shown
how the State pf Wisconsin is attempting to meet one phase of the
problem. The Sheriff of each county is empowered to find employment
for his jail prisoners, and to collect and distribute their wages. This,
of course, is aimed only at the correction of idleness and the evils
that follow in its train, both to the prisoner himself and to his family.
It does not touch the problem that is presented by the fact that many
644 PROBATION IN SMALL COMMUNITIES
are in jail who might better be enjoying such limited freedom as that
of one who has otherwise guaranteed his appearance in court when
It is a question how far the Wisconsin idea could be of service
in a large city with its greatly congested population but it is at any
rate worth some consideration, and as to the rural community, the
report from Wisconsin is convincing. We hope to see the day when
the use of such a plan as that in Wisconsin may be widely extended.
Then with improved jail architecture such as that described by Mr.
W. Carbys Zimmerman in the present number we shall be making real
progress in the solution of a difficult and complex problem. Move-
ments along such a broad front must of necessity be slow. They must
wait on the education of officials and of the general public.
Robert H. Gault.
EFFICIENT PROBATION WORK IN SMALL COMMUNITIES.
In Mr. E. W. Burgess' article, entitled "Juvenile Delinquency in
a Small City," in this number of the Journal, it is maintained that
"The compensation for the probation officer is so inadequate that only
incompetent service can be secured"
It is undoubtedly true that the probation officers in most small
communities are inefficient, but it is just as true that in several such
communities there is highly efficient probation service, and that the
plans which have been worked out there can be applied everywhere.
For example, eight years ago the city government of Evanston,
Illinois, (a city of approximately 30,000 inhabitants) and the two
Township Boards of Education in Evanston co-operated in employing
the same person to attend to truancy and probation cases in that city.
As Evanston covers a good deal of territory private individuals sup-
plied an automobile to be used jointly by the probation-truant officer
and the visitor for the Evanston Association of Charities. The person
who took the position of truant-probation officer at that time held the
office for five years and then took an examination for assistant proba-
tion officer of the Juvenile; Court of Cook County. She stood at the
head of the list of the eighty, who, out of the 800 candidates, passed
the examination, and now she occupies an executive position in the
Cook County Juvenile Court.
Another example of small towns securing efficient service is found
in what has been done in the towns between Evanston and Highland
Park (including five suburban villages extending along Lake Mich-
igan for a distance of about eight miles). In these towns at once the
same person acts as supervisor of the poor, truant officer and probation